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Marking a body part doesn’t always prevent surgical mistakes

| Jul 6, 2020 | Surgical Errors

Surgical mistakes, such as wrong-site surgery, can have a drastic impact on a person’s life. Imagine needing to have your left leg amputated and waking up to find that they accidentally amputated your right leg — and that the left one still has to go in a separate procedure. This type of massive error is irreversible.

To prevent it, many medical professionals will mark a patient’s body parts before surgery. It can be as simple as marking the leg that is supposed to be operated on with a marker. The surgeon then has one final confirmation that they’re doing the correct procedure before they begin.

However, even these marks don’t guarantee that the wrong limb isn’t removed. In one instance, a patient narrowly avoided catastrophe when the nurse prepped the wrong leg. There was a mark on the correct leg, but the nurse apparently did not notice it. Luckily, another member of the team got a feeling that a mistake was being made, and the whole team paused and double-checked. They discovered the mistake.

You could argue that the solution is to mark both legs (which to operate on and which not to) so that the nurse can’t overlook the absence of a mark. That can certainly help, but what if they overlook it? What if it accidentally gets washed off? What if the doctor marks the wrong leg to begin with? There are still plenty of potential errors.

Again, these mistakes can be life-changing. If this happens to you or a loved one, be sure you know what legal options you have and how to seek compensation.

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